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Facebook has announced sweeping changes to its news feed and the way it handles groups or pages that violate the company’s content policies.

The new changes, including a new algorithm signal, are aimed at reducing the reach of sites spreading content with misinformation by judging the authority of the sites the content comes from.

If Facebook believes the site producing content shared on the platform is not reputable, it will decrease its news feed reach and reduce the number of people seeing the content.

How Facebook is Changing its Algorithm

In the past, Facebook has teamed up with highly respected organizations like the Associated Press to validate sites spreading content across the platform.

Now, the company says it is introducing a “click-gap” metric designed to automatically evaluate the inbound and outbound linking patterns of a site to judge if it is authoritative.

Essentially, the click-gap signal measures the inbound and outbound linking patterns to determine if the number of links on Facebook is higher than the link’s popularity across the internet. This will allow the company to distinguish the forced spread of content rather than organic virality.

As Facebook explains in the announcement:

“This new signal, Click-Gap, relies on the web graph, a conceptual “map” of the internet in which domains with a lot of inbound and outbound links are at the center of the graph and domains with fewer inbound and outbound links are at the edges.

Click-Gap looks for domains with a disproportionate number of outbound Facebook clicks compared to their place in the web graph. This can be a sign that the domain is succeeding on News Feed in a way that doesn’t reflect the authority they’ve built outside it and is producing low-quality content.”

Changes to Groups

Notably, this new algorithmic signal isn’t just being applied to news feeds. The company explained it will also be using these algorithms to automatically remove low-quality content posted in groups, including private groups.

The company defended the decision by saying they can now identify and remove harmful groups, whether they are public, closed, or secret.”

“We can now proactively detect many types of violating content posted in groups before anyone reports them and sometimes before few people, if any, even see them.”

Admins are Required to Police Content

Along with these changes, Facebook clarified that its algorithms will consider what posts a group’s admins approve as a way of determining if they are a harmful group or eligible for removal.

The company says it will close down groups if an admin regularly approves content that is false, misleading, or against Facebook’s content guidelines.

This is how Facebook explained the new policy:

“Starting in the coming weeks, when reviewing a group to decide whether or not to take it down, we will look at admin and moderator content violations in that group, including member posts they have approved, as a stronger signal that the group violates our standards.”

What This Means for You

As long as the pages you participate in or run are sharing content from reliable sources, the new policies should have little effect on your day-to-day operations. However, the changes could have considerable impacts on brands or influencers who go against mainstream science or other non-approved sources. These types of industries have flourished on the platform for years, but may soon be facing a reckoning if Facebook’s new content guidelines are as strict as they sound.

A lot of people have come to think of search engine optimization and content marketing as separate strategies these days, but Google’s John Mueller wants to remind webmasters that both are intrinsically linked. Without great content, even the most well-optimized sites won’t rank as high as they should.

The discussion was brought up during a recent Google Webmaster Central hangout where one site owner asked about improving rankings for his site.

Specifically, he explained that there were no technical issues that he could find using Google’s tools and wasn’t sure what else he could do to improve performance.

Here’s the question that was asked:

“There are zero issues on our website according to Search Console. We’re providing fast performance in mobile and great UX. I’m not sure what to do to improve rankings.”

Mueller responded by explaining that it is important to not forget about the other half of the equation. Just focusing on the technical details won’t always lead to high rankings because the content on the site still needs to be relevant and engaging for users.

The best way to approach the issue, in Mueller’s opinion, is to ask what issues users might be having with your products or services and what questions they might ask. Then, use content to provide clear and easily available answers to these questions.

In addition to these issues, Mueller noted that some industries have much stronger competition for rankings than others. If you are in one of these niches, you may still struggle to rank as well as you’d like against competition which has been maintaining an informative and well-designed site for longer.

You can read or watch Mueller’s answer in full below, starting at 32:29 in the video:

“This is always kind of a tricky situation where you’re working on your website for a while, then sometimes you focus on a lot of the technical details and forget about the bigger picture.

So what I would recommend doing here is taking your website and the queries that you’re looking [to rank] for, and going to one of the webmaster forums.

It could be our webmaster forum, there are lots of other webmaster forums out there where webmasters and SEOs hang out. And sometimes they’ll be able to look at your website and quickly pull out a bunch of issues. Things that you could be focusing on as well.

Sometimes that’s not so easy, but I think having more people look at your website and give you advice, and being open to that advice, I think that’s an important aspect here.

Another thing to keep in mind is that just because something is technically correct doesn’t mean that it’s relevant to users in the search results. That doesn’t mean that it will rank high.

So if you clean up your website, and you fix all of the issues, for example, if your website contains lots of terrible content then it still won’t rank that high.

So you need to, on the one hand, understand which of these technical issues are actually critical for your website to have fixed.

And, on the other hand, you really need to focus on the user aspect as well to find what are issues that users are having, and how can my website help solve those issues. Or help answer those questions.”

Facebook is running an extremely limited test letting just five publishers create and test responsive headlines, images, videos, and copy to see which versions of their posts perform better in real time.

The new tool allows the select few publishers to test up to four unique versions of any organic post, according to Digiday. It also allows these publishers to see data such as interactions and click-through rate, as well as predictions of these metrics as the ads roll out. This way, publishers can actively gauge which version of their content fares best.

While Facebook wasn’t willing to release specific data on the test yet, Facebook product manager Mollie Vandor said that more than half of the time, publishers wound up choosing a different version of the story than they had originally created.

The intention is to help boost organic performance for publishers in a time where organic reach and engagement continues to fall across the platform. According to BuzzFeed News, one of the publishers given access to the test, the tool does improve performance. However, it isn’t enough to mitigate Facebook’s ongoing demotion of organic reach.

“This comes as everyone’s traffic on Facebook has gone down a lot, so it’s good to be able to get the most out of our posts, but we’re still getting a lot less,” said BuzzFeed news deputy director, Fran Berkman.

As a Facebook rep told Marketing Land in a written statement:

Our goal with this test is to provide more visibility into how their organic content is performing on Facebook on a post by post basis. Also to enable publishers in the test to derive learnings and identify their own best practices over time. With this level of insight, publishers are better equipped to drive meaningful engagement around their content and have a stronger sense of control over how their content performs on Facebook.

Vandor echoed this sentiment, saying the tool “is a way to maximize how they pitch their content to people on Facebook.”

“Instead of us saying, ‘Here’s a list of universal best practices,’ we’re trying to give publishers the tools they can use to develop their own best practices.”

When asked if the tool would be available to other publishers and advertisers in the future, Vandor wouldn’t say anything decisively. She did, though, say the company is “actively exploring” expanding the tool to others once it is made easier and less resource-intensive to use.

Are you afraid typos or grammatical errors in your blogs might be hurting your Google ranking? According to Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, worry no more.

The good news is typos won’t hurt your search rankings. The bad news is they may still hurt you in other ways.

Responding to a Twitter user who believed that errors in content can hurt your Google presence by getting content marked as low quality, Mueller explained that Google doesn’t actually care that much.

“It’s always good to fix known issues with a site, but Google’s not going to count your typsos (sic),” Mueller wrote.

While that might be a relief for many, there is still the obvious issue of how actual people perceive content with typos. People are prone to forgive a mistake here and there, but error-filled or poorly written content is going to be dismissed by most.

Poorly written content comes off as unprofessional and won’t help build your authority like well-edited, well-composed content. So, while you might be able to get away with some typos on Google, it always pays to take the time to edit and revise anything you are going to publish under your company name before the public ever gets to see it.

Snapchat has quickly become one of the most popular social image sharing platforms around, breaking out of its teen-centric image to reach a wide audience of users. With this growth, the platform has also made extensive changes to make it easier for brands to connect with users.

This week, the company released one such new feature with the launch of “Snapchat Paperclip”. The Paperclip feature lets anyone – including brands – to attach a link to any Snap before it is shared. Until now, the only way you could include a link in a Snap was through paid ads.

The launch of Paperclip puts Snapchat ahead of the other most prominent social image platform, Instagram, which only allows links within the bio section of profiles. The only exception to Instagram’s rules is for users with over 10,000 followers. These popular figures can also include links in Instagram Stories.

The ability to include links in individual Snaps may seem like a small change, but it could be a huge win for brands looking to build an organic following. Instead of paying for ads, you can now rely on high-quality content to get users engaged and interested in your site and products. It also allows you to reach more ad-averse audiences, such as tech-savvy users who tend to block or ignore ads.

The Paperclip feature already available around the world for both iOS and Android users and is easily accessible by tapping the paperclip icon within Snapchat’s toolkit.

Along with the launch of Paperclip, Snapchat has released two other new features more aimed at average users. Voice Filters give users the ability to modify the way their voice sounds even when no using a visual lens. The other feature, Backdrops, lets users swap out the background of images with custom designs or colors.

You can see all three new features in action in this video shared by Josh Constine:

These days, everyone knows about content marketing in some form. Whether you’re a business releasing blog posts and videos, or a consumer downloading ebooks and clicking on sponsored posts, there’s no denying that content marketing is ubiquitous in the modern day.

But, you might be surprised to learn this isn’t a new phenomenon. Content marketing has been around long before the social media, blogs, or even the internet.

It would be hard to pin down exactly when someone got the idea to promote something through content in some form, but Uberflip suggests content marketing’s seeds go all the way back to cave paintings in their Back to the Future themed infographic.

Let’s hop in the Delorean and check out all the landmarks and milestones that have shaped our modern content obsessed culture with A Visual History of Content Marketing:

A Visual History of Content Marketing

quality contentOver the past few years, search engine optimization (SEO) has endured a drastic shift from focusing on building link profiles filled with as many links of any quality that you could accumulate to emphasizing the value sites offer to users by assessing content quality. Of course, as the shift has occurred many online marketers were left wondering “what exactly is quality content and how do search engines judge my content?”

Google has remained fairly tight-lipped on the subject, only suggesting a few obvious and time-tested strategies for improving content for users. However, Bing’s Senior Program Manager, Michael Basilyan, went into great detail on how Bing evaluates content quality in a recent blog post.

In Bing’s case, the algorithm looks at multiple factors including relevance to specific queries, authority, utility, and even the overall presentation of the content. Basilyan encourages content creators to be ever-aware that every search is made by real people wanting real information to help them, rather than meaningless paragraphs crammed with keywords.

If you want your site to be visible on Bing’s search results and your content to be useful to users, Basilyan recommends focusing on these three areas:

  • Authority: How trustworthy is the content, the author of the content, and the website it is published on? Signals from social networks, cited sources, and name recognition is considered when determining an author’s authority.
  • Utility: How useful and detailed is the content? Content that provides appropriate levels of depth, along with supporting information, is considered to be more useful for searchers.
  • Presentation: Is the content presented in a way that’s easy to read? A well-presented page is one that makes its content easy to find, rather than one that forces the user to sift through unrelated material to find what they really want.

The blog post also highlights that Bing does not discourage the use of advertising, saying “Bing will promote and support websites and webmasters that provide ads relevant to the content of their website.” But, if your content interferes with usability it may also affect your visibility and Bing’s own assessment of your content.

The phrase “content marketing” is thrown around all over the place, but marketers seem to be forget that content can mean more than blog posts. While blogs can play a big role in online marketing and catching the attention of your audience, there are several other tools at our disposal that are often more effective.

Audiences almost always respond better to visual marketing better than text, so long as your visual content reaches the same level of quality. Market Domination Media wanted marketers to know that visual content packs a heavy punch that makes the heightened investment more than worthwhile.

To do so, MDM published an infographic which highlights the reasons why visual content consistently performs so much better.

The-Power-of-Visual-Content

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Facebook has become a bit of a source of conflict among many content marketers as organic reach has plummeted in recent years, however most stick around because the social media platform still has a massive impact when it works.

In an effort to satisfy content creators and marketers, Facebook has introduced a new subpage called Facebook Media that highlights how content can help public figures and organizations connect with their audiences.

Along with sharing success stories, Facebook says they will also share data and best practices which will help other content creators increase the effect of their own Facebook marketing.

The new page, located at media.fb.com, is divided into four categories built around goals typically shared by both content creators and media marketers. Here is a breakdown of each section and what you can find there:

  • Engage Fans on Facebook: Here you’ll see how public figures can use tools like Facebook Mentions to reach out to their fans on their Facebook Page. You can also get insight into different types of engaging content you can share on your own page.
  • Drive Referrals: In this section you’ll see how to drive referrals by doing things such as sharing links on your Page, adding social sharing buttons to your website, and other best practices. “After Bleacher Report increased the number of posts it shared to its Facebook Page, the site saw a 15X increase in referral traffic from Facebook.”
  • Share Videos: This contains information about how to connect with a larger portion of your own Facebook audience with video. It also highlights how using video metrics and call to actions can better engage your audience.
  • Integrate TV and Social Content: If you produce content for other mediums like television, this section has information about how to get your TV audience to engage with you on Facebook. “…like the TODAY Show, which featured trending topics on air to highlight the most talked-about news moments on Facebook”.